Luke 16:1-13 Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, `What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He answered, `A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, `Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, `And how much do you owe?' He replied, `A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Reflection As children of this age, when focused on things of this world, (reviewing our bank statement or portfolios, church finances, considering our basic survival needs), we generally switch gears and leap into action when we see the need to take care of business. But, as children of light is this also true when we assess the state of our spiritual life? When we notice things that can turn us away from God and the love of God’s people, (an inordinate concern for our portfolios and bank statements, our power and privilege), are we as swift to take action to preserve the light?
What do we mean, preserve the light? I believe it is the light of consciousness open to receive and radiate Jesus’ Good News; “God is with and for all people and we are all meant to experience fullness of life.” But everywhere we turn we are assaulted with contrary messages; “You better protect yourself, take care of number one, sure up your resources because life is a zero sum game. There is only so much money to go around, there are limits to the amount of power and privilege available, so grab what you can and protect it.” Fearing we will be left out or left behind, we leap into action, accumulate as much as possible and then worry about protecting our earthly assets with smart houses and corporate veils, electric fences, umbrella insurance and off shore accounts.
Then in a twist we don’t see coming, Jesus commends the manager who rips off his rich master, when the manager “acts shrewdly” to insure his own survival. What is going on here? Even though the unjust manager is reducing the debtors’ debt for his personal gain, he is using money to benefit his neighbors and establish friendships so they will “welcome him into their homes.“Ironically, this secures the unjust manager’s spiritual life because our spiritual life is all about relationships, not about protecting number one.
There is nothing inherently wrong with money or power or privilege. And yes, to some extent they do provide us with physical and social security. But, no amount of money, power or privilege puts us in right relationship with God. No superfund of resources can protect us from travail and ultimately, death. So, the question is, how are we using our resources?
Are we fools who use our resources in an ill-fated effort to secure our physical and social security and consequently crash into a wall of our own making, an edifice of ‘stuff’ separating us from God and God’s people? Or, are we using our money, power and privilege to establish good will and cultivate community for the glory of God? Are we only children of the age or are we also children of the light?
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